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Equal Employment v. Reginald Bailey

April 7, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge


On December 9, 2010, Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a First Amended Complaint alleging race discrimination claims in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII") and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 1981a, against Defendant DHL Express (USA), Inc. ("DHL"). On December 10, 2010, Intervening-Plaintiffs filed an Intervening Complaint for violations of Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 against DHL. Before the Court is DHL's Motion for Summary Judgment or Partial Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the following reasons, the Court grants in part and denies in part DHL's summary judgment motion.


I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1 assists the Court by "organizing the evidence, identifying undisputed facts, and demonstrating precisely how each side propose[s] to prove a disputed fact with admissible evidence." Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000). Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009). "The opposing party is required to file 'a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." Id. (citing N.D. Ill. R. 56.1(b)(3)(B)). Also, Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) requires the nonmoving party to present a separate statement of additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment. See Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008).

The purpose of Rule 56.1 statements is to identify the relevant admissible evidence supporting the material facts -- not to make factual or legal arguments. See Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 2006) ("statement of material facts did [] not comply with Rule 56.1 as it failed to adequately cite the record and was filled with irrelevant information, legal arguments, and conjecture"). The requirements for responses under Local Rule 56.1 are "not satisfied by evasive denials that do not fairly meet the substance of the material facts asserted." Bordelon, 233 F.3d at 528. Also, the Court may disregard statements and responses that do not properly cite to the record. See Cichon, 401 F.3d at 809-10; see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2). Finally, it is well established that "district courts are entitled to expect strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1." Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 604 (7th Cir. 2006). With these standards in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts of this case.

II. Relevant Facts

A. Parties

The EEOC brings this lawsuit for race discrimination based on charges of discrimination filed with the EEOC by at least 24 individuals who were former DHL employees. (R. 30, Def.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts. ¶ 1.) More specifically, the EEOC brings this action on behalf of the 24 individuals and others similarly situated who were employed at DHL's Lisle, Alsip, and Franklin Park, Illinois facilities as pick-up and delivery employees (hereinafter "Charging Parties"). (Id. ¶ 2.) The Intervening-Plaintiffs are bringing individual, separate claims for employment discrimination based on charges of discrimination filed with the EEOC. (Id. ¶ 3.) DHL is a wholly-owned and separately-incorporated subsidiary of Deutsche Post, AG ("Deutsche Post"), which is an international express and logistics enterprise that does business in the State of Illinois. (Id. ¶ 4.)

B. DHL Restructuring

On November 10, 2008, Deutsche Post announced that it was discontinuing its domestic air and ground services -- while continuing its international shipping operations -- in the United States. (Id. ¶ 5.) As a part of the restructuring process, in July 2008, DHL began laying off employees, which continued through March 2009. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 8.) The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 705 ("Local 705") represented the majority of DHL's Chicago area employees for the purpose of collective bargaining, including one bargaining unit for pickup and delivery employees. (Id. ¶ 9.) All of the Charging Parties are or were Local 705-represented pick-up and delivery couriers employed in the Chicago area DHL facilities. (Id. ¶10.) Specifically, the April 1, 2008 through March 31, 2009 collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") between DHL and Local 705 covered the pick-up and delivery employees in the Chicago area facilities. (Id.)

After Deutsche Post's November 10, 2008 announcement, the statutory bargaining representatives of the affected employees, including Local 705, sought to bargain with the company about the effects of the restructuring on union-represented employees. (Id. ¶ 11.) After negotiations in November and December 2008, DHL and Local 705 entered into agreements on December 5, 2008 addressing all effects-related matters ("Effects Agreement"). (Id.) DHL's effects bargaining agreement with Local 705 made separation/severance benefits available to the affected employees. (Id.) Before the effects bargaining negotiations began, the CBA did not provide for any such separation/severance payments. (Id. ¶ 12.)

C. Voluntary Separation Programs

As part of the Effects Agreement, DHL and Local 705 agreed to four-week and ten-week voluntary separation programs ("VSPs"), as well as separation benefits for those employees who did not choose to participate in the VSPs or who sought to do so, but were not selected for participation because of their lower seniority in the bargaining unit. (Id. ¶ 14.) Employees participating in a VSP would receive the appropriate equivalent of straight-time pay, as well as continued pension and health and welfare benefits during the particular time period, which was ten or four weeks. (Id.) To receive those benefits, the employee would execute a waiver and general release, voluntarily resign her employment, and waive her recall rights under the applicable CBA. (Id.) DHL would lay off those employees who were not retained and who decided not to resign, but these employees would maintain their contractual recall rights under the CBA. (Id.)

Local 705 negotiated the terms of the VSPs agreeing to each and every aspect and term of the effects agreements, the VSPs, and the form and content of the releases, including eligibility, the amount of consideration, bid procedure, resignation provisions, the form of the release, the amount of time employees would be given to decide whether to enter into a release, and the revocation period. (Id. ¶ 13.) The agreements allowed the pick-up and delivery employees the opportunity to obtain the additional consideration negotiated and agreed to by DHL and Local 705 in exchange for a release of employment claims, including employment discrimination claims. (Id.) In exchange for this consideration, these employees were provided separation benefits that they would not have otherwise been provided. (Id.)

1. Ten-Week VSP

DHL posted a general bid for pick-up and delivery employees interested in the ten-week VSP. (Id. ¶ 15.) After describing the program to eligible employees, interested employees submitted an application to participate and DHL selected the 325 most senior employees who bid for this program. (Id.) Participating employees would, if certain conditions were satisfied, receive a separation payment equivalent to ten weeks' straight-time pay, as well as continued pension and health and welfare benefits for that period. (Id. ¶ 16.) To participate, eligible employees would have to execute a general waiver and release and employees who elected to participate in the program would voluntarily resign their employment and waive their right to recall under the CBA. (Id. ¶ 17.) The release provided a general waiver of claims including, but not limited to, claims for employment discrimination. (Id.) Employees who decided not to participate in any of the VSPs would either retain their recall rights if already laid off, or, if not, would continue their employment or could be subject to layoff and recall depending upon their bargaining unit seniority. (Id. ¶ 18.) The employees who ...

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